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Apps to find out what’s nearby

We’re all big time users of GPS these days, in our cars, of course, but also our smartphones and tablets. GPS is also helping our mobile devices find very helpful information and directions to just about anything that is around us. Here’s my three favorite such apps:

fieldtripI’m really liking Field Trip, a very handy and totally free app from Google for the iPhone and Android devices. The app bills itself as a tool to find cool, hidden, and unique things in the world around you. And that it does, Field Trip give you inside info on everything from local history to the latest and best places to shop, eat, and have fun. You select the local feeds you like and the information pops up on your phone automatically, as you walk or drive. When you get close to something interesting, it will notify you and if you have a headset or bluetooth connected, it can even read the info to you.

I also really like the Around Me App. It is all about providing local info. Whatever you’re looking for -grocery stores, banks, hospitals, gas stations, movie theatres. This is really handy when you travel, but surprisingly useful locally, where I always seem to find cool things nearby that I didn’t know about. It’s free for Apple, Android and Windows devices and smartphones..

One more: The Where To? App for the iPhone. This one costs $2.99 and it has a very cool interface, finding and displaying local information in a sort of augmented reality way on a street level photograph. It also shows traditional maps.

Mike is a veteran journalist whose video "PC Mike" reports have been distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations since 1994, making him one of the most experienced tech reporters in the country. His tech stories and videos have appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, the Today Show, The New York Times, USA Today and in numerous national newspapers and magazines. In addition to the PC Mike tech blog, he also publishes the Roadtreking.com RV Travel Blog in which he travels North America in an RV reporting about interesting people and places.